Chapter 10 — Silent and Solitary Reflections on Janaka

Vasishta related:—

While Janaka was musing in this way, his chamberlain entered and came before him, like Aruna standing before the chariot of the sun.

The chamberlain said, “O sire, your kingdom is safe under your protecting arms. Now rise to attend to the daily rites, as it becomes your majesty.”

“The maidservants are waiting with their water pots for your bath, filled with water perfumed with flowers, camphor and saffron. They present themselves before you like river nymphs. The temples are hung with fine muslin as white as the fibers of lotus stalks, and they are decorated with lotuses and other flowers with bees fluttering upon them. Men with feather-fans, chariots, elephants, horses and umbrellas stand ready to serve you at the time of your bath.”

“The altars are filled with heaps of flowers, aromatic incense and rice, and adorned with every decoration in a princely style. The brahmins are waiting there for your majesty’s presence. After making their sacred ablution and purifications, and offering their prayers for the remission of sins, they expect to get worthy gifts from you. The handmaids are attending to their duties, graced with fans in their hands. The feasting ground is cleansed with sandal paste and water.”

“Therefore arise from your seat and perform your prescribed duties, because it does not become the best of men to be late in the discharge of their duties.”

10 Though asked in this way by the head chamberlain, yet the king remained in his meditative mood, thinking on the wonderful phenomena of nature.

11 Janaka thought to himself:—

This royalty and these duties of mine are for a very short time. I do not require these things that are so transitory in their nature. 12 I must leave these things that at best are only waters of a mirage. I must remain close to myself in my lonely seclusion, like a calm and solitary lake. 13 The pleasures of this world displayed around us are entirely useless to me. I will promptly leave them and remain in my happy retirement.

14 O my heart, to avoid the snares of disease and death, abandon your shrewdness in pursuing the objects of your desire. 15 Whatever state or condition of life the heart hankers for its delight, it is sure to meet with some difficulty, distress or disappointment coming out of the same. 16 Whether your heart is engaged or disengaged with the objects of sense, you will never find any object, either in act or thought, that is conducive to the true happiness of your soul. 17 Therefore forsake thoughts of the vile pleasure of your senses and concentrate on those thoughts that are filled with the true happiness of the soul.

Vasishta speaking:—

18 Thinking in this manner, Janaka remained in mute silence. His restless mind became as still and made him sit down like a picture in painting or like a statue. 19 The chamberlain uttered not a word more. He stood silent in mute respect and fear of his master, and from his knowledge of the dispositions of kings.

20 Janaka, in his state of silent meditation, reflected again on the vanity of human life, with cool calmness of his mind, and thought.

Janaka thinking to himself:—

 21 Now must I be diligent to find the best and most precious treasure in the world, and know what is that imperishable thing to which I must bind my soul as its surest anchor.

22 What is the good of doing or not doing my acts? Nothing is produced of anything which is not perishable in its nature. 23 It matters not whether the body is active or inactive because all the body’s actions end in utter inaction as all force is reduced to rest. It is the pure consciousness within me that always remains the same and it loses nothing from the loss of the body or from lack of physical action. 24 I do not wish to have what I have not, or dare leave what I already have. I am content with myself. So let me have what is mine and what I have.

25 I get no real good by my acts here, nor do I lose anything by refraining from them. What I get by my acts or lack of action is all zero and void of vanities, and nothing to my purpose or liking. 26 Whether I am doing or not doing, and whether my acts are proper or improper, I have nothing to desire here, nor anything desirable that I have to expect from them. 27 I have got what was due according to my past actions. This body is the result of my former acts. It may continue its motion and actions or it may become still and fade away. It is all the same to me.

28 The mind being set at ease by lack of its action or passion, the actions of the body and its members are similarly at ease by not doing. 29 The acts of men which happen to take place as the results of their destiny or previous actions, are reckoned as no acts of theirs. 30 The impression which the inner soul bears of its past actions and passions give its color to the later nature and character of men’s actions. Now that my soul has obtained its imperishable state of spirituality, I am free from the frequent changes of transmigrations of my body and mind.